Suspect in Vandalism of Rabin Memorial: Shalit Family Traded Israel for Their Son

Speaking to Haaretz just hours before vandalizing Tel Aviv memorial for the slain PM, Shvuel Schijveschuurder protested the release of his family's murderers for the abducted IDF soldier.

The family of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has "sold" Israel for the price of their son's freedom, a man suspected of vandalizing the memorial of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told Haaretz, just hours before he defaced the Tel Aviv site.

Late Thursday night, the Rabin memorial near Tel Aviv City Hall was vandalized by Shvuel Schijveschuurder, a man whose family was killed in the 2001 terror attack at the Jerusalem “Sbarro” restaurant.

Vandalism of Yitzhak Rabin memorial - Hadar Cohen - 14.10.2011
Hadar Cohen

The act was in protest of the government’s decision to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Two of the prisoners were responsible for the “Sbarro” attack.

Schijveschuurder, a 27-year-old from Givat Shmuel who lost his parents and three of his siblings in the attack, vandalized the memorial spraying the words “price tag” and “release Yigal Amir”, the Israeli man who is serving a life sentence in prison for assassinating the former prime minister in 1995.

Speaking to Haaretz just hours before he defaced the Rabin memorial, Schijveschuurder severely criticized the Shalit family's campaign for their son's release, saying: "Did you think for one second who you were releasing? Arch-terrorist that are being sent to Tuscany, Italy."

"I question the purity of the Shalit family's intentions. Gilad Shalit and his family sold the country in order to free 1,000 'freedom fighters'," Schijveschuurder said, adding: "I have a feeling he wasn't even in captivity, maybe they set up a nice apartment for him in Egypt, and not in Gaza, playing with us so they 'd have an excuse to free terrorists one day."

Schijveschuurder also spoke of a meeting he had as a teen with then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon following the attack on the Sbarro restaurant, saying: "Three days after the bombing Arik Sharon came to console my family and told me: 'I know which terror squad murdered your family, and we'll get them.'"

"Even then I looked at him with the eyes of a boy, and told him: 'Arik, don't bring them to trial in Israel. Have a field court like you did when you were in the [elite IDF's] 101 unit," adding: "I knew they would release them, it was clear to me from the start."

When asked about what he thought about the newly signed deal, Schijveschuurder told Haaretz: "Does my opinion about the deal matter? Would anyone care?"

"There's a minority here that's forcing its opinion on the majority [of Israelis]. They're just sitting there and laughing at us," Schijveschuurder said, referring to a massive wave of social protests which swept Israel this summer.

"[Social protest leader] Daphnie Leef and her friends hold a protest, call it the March of the Million…. Basically it's just a small minority that's making a mockery of the absolute majority of the people that does whatever it wants," he added.

Following his defacement of the Rabin memorial, Schijveschuurder was arrested by Tel Aviv City Hall security guards and brought into the police for questioning.

The security guards who caught the suspect said that he seemed confused when he was arrested, and he told them that his family members were hurt in a terror attack.

Police later released Schijveschuurder on parole, saying the young man admitted to the act; he was ordered to stay away from Tel Aviv for 15 days.